This weekend, the third and final exhibition of Cruising Pavilion: Architecture, Gay Sex and Cruising Culture opened at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm. The first two exhibitions took place in Venice, Italy (Spazio Punch) and New York City (Ludlow38), examining the emergence and evolution of cruising practices over time. The third iteration centers on the relationship between the architecture of urban spaces and sexuality.
Cruising is defined as the practice by which homosexual men search for sexual experiences and partners in a public space. Traditionally, cruising takes place in quintessentially urban spaces—city parks, public bathrooms, bathhouses, gyms, car parks, sex clubs, and other designated gathering points. More recently, however, the growing popularity of hook-up apps like Grindr, as well as increased pressure from large-scale property development in many cities, have prompted various adaptations among members of the LGBTQ+ community. The curators of the Cruising Pavilion at ArkDes—Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault, Charles Teyssou, and James Taylor-Foster—sought to explore these tensions through the work of architects, designers, and artists from around the world.
In a critical acknowledgment of the diversity among those who have historically engaged in cruising, the installation in Stockholm explores it as a pursuit undertaken by groups other than cis-gendered gay men. According to ArkDes, “The exhibition presents cruising as the producer of a non-hetero architecture that closely mirrors the patriarchal nature of the built environment. Cruising is at once revealed as a resistance, and avant-garde and a vernacular, with an active relevance in and beyond LGBTQ+ circles.”
For the display in Stockholm, organizers have incorporated work from a wide variety of designers and firms, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Andrés Jaque's Office for Political Innovation, and S H U I (Jon Wang + Sean Roland). The exhibition is housed in Boxen, a studio gallery for experimental shows that opened at ArkDes in 2018. The Cruising Pavilion will be on display at ArkDes through November 10, 2019.